things to do in mount airy nc a perfect day in mayberry

The small town of Mount Airy lies at the edge of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the North Carolina mountains. Visitors shouldn’t miss walking the quaint downtown and snapping a few pictures of the Mayberry sites. For a small town, Mount Airy has several things to do and we’ll help plan a perfect day in Mayberry.

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Mount Airy North Carolina

Mount Airy is located in Surry County North Carolina in the Yadkin Valley. The Yadkin Valley is a fertile area known for its wineries.

Is Mount Airy in the mountains?

Mount Airy is located at the eastern edge of the North Carolina mountains and is only 13 miles from the infamous Blue Ridge Parkway. The steep drive from Mount Airy to the Blue Ridge Parkway feels much longer than 13 miles.

Once on the parkway, the elevation is more consistent but prepare for 45 mph speed limits. The Blue Ridge Parkway is great for scenic drives but not ideal for those on a tight schedule.

What is Mount Airy known for?

Mount Airy North Carolina is the real-life home of Andy Griffith. The quaint downtown and nearby beautiful houses were his inspiration for The Andy Griffith Show’s town of Mayberry.

As a native North Carolinian, I grew up watching Andy Griffith and can’t help myself from humming the series theme song. I wish I could whistle it but it’s much more difficult than it seems. If you’ve never heard it, here’s a sample.

There are several ways to experience the small North Carolina mountain town. Keep reading for a list of things to do in Mount Airy on your next trip.

Is there a real Mayberry?

Mayberry, the fictional town in North Carolina, was the location of the Andy Griffith show. Andy Griffith used his hometown as an inspiration for Mayberry.

Mount Airy was the inspiration for Mayberry but there is a town really named Mayberry. It is located 22 miles northeast of Mount Airy in Virginia.

The town has embraced its appeal to visitors. You’ll see vintage sheriff cars giving tours.

Some locations were even used as filming locations for the show. I won’t comment on the authenticity of the locations but you’ll find Floyd’s Barber Shop, Opie’s Candy Store, Emmit’s Fix-It Shop and Wally’s Service Station.

Where is Mayberry?

There is a town named Mayberry in Patrick County, Virginia but if you want to visit Mayberry, you’re probably looking for Mount Airy in Surry County North Carolina.

Mount Airy North Carolina is the hometown of Andy Griffith. It provided his inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry in his long-running 1960s tv series Andy Griffith. Mount Airy is also home to several of the filming locations for the 249 episodes of the Andy Griffith Show.

What are Mayberry Days?

Mayberry Days are an annual celebration of The Andy Griffith Show and all things Andy Griffith.

The Mayberry Days festival is held in late September in Andy’s hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. It is hosted by the Surry County Arts Council.

Starting in 1990, the Mayberry Days festival started as an one-day event inspired by the death of Frances Bavier, Aunt Bea.

The festival date was chosen to align with the first episode launching on October 3, 1960. Mayberry Days started as a one-day celebration but due to popularity has expanded to a week-long festival.

main street mount airy

Is there a real Mount Pilot in North Carolina?

The larger town of Mount Pilot in the Andy Griffith Show was inspired by nearby Pilot Mountain. Pilot Mountain is real but Mount Pilot is not. While visiting Mount Airy, a great outdoor thing to do is exploring nearby Pilot Mountain State Park.

What is there to do in Mount Airy?

Honestly Mount Airy is like a lot of small towns, there aren’t big city attractions every day of the week. If wondering what there is to do in Mount Airy, the list is pretty simple.

Visit Main Street, check out a show at one of the town theaters, learn more about the history of Mount Airy and Andy Griffith at one of the museums, enjoy a wholesome meal or a treat (beer, spirits, wine or sweets), or explore the nature of the NC mountains.

What are the top attractions to visit in Mount Airy?

The top attractions in Mount Airy are Andy Griffith and Mayberry oriented.

Main Street Mayberry, Andy Griffith Museum, Floyd’s Barber Shop, Squad Car Tours and the Snappy Lunch Counter are some of the most popular attractions in Mount Airy.

A Perfect Day in Mayberry – One Day Itinerary

If you haven’t seen The Andy Griffith Show in a while (or never–gasp), I recommend tuning into TV Land for a few episodes before visiting Mount Airy.

If you only have one day in Mount Airy, the perfect itinerary will vary but there are a few must-dos.

I’d recommend hitting these highlights:

  • Stroll Main Street Mount Airy
  • Eat a pork chop sandwich “all the way” at Snappy’s Lunch
  • Grab a sweet treat on Main Street or an adult treat at a local vineyard
  • Check out the replica jailhouse and grab a picture at Wally’s Service Station
  • Squad Car Tours are a great way to see it all in style
  • Visit the Andy Griffith Museum or Mount Airy Museum for more history if time allows
  • Check the Surry Arts Council schedules for live music and theatre performances
  • Snap a picture at the Andy Griffith theater of the Andy & Opie statue and the Hey from Mayberry mural
hey from mayberry mural in mount airy nc

What is there to do in downtown Mount Airy?

Downtown Mount Airy is only a couple of blocks long and easily be walked.

There are several antique shops in downtown Mount Airy for those with time for browsing. Hours vary but we noticed most are closed are Sunday and Monday. We visited on a Tuesday afternoon and noticed several were closed during their business hours.

During our visit, most visitors were enjoying a sweet treat from one of the many bakeries and ice cream shops in downtown Mount Airy. We decided to try Miss Angel’s and weren’t disappointed with a cookie and brownie.

Finally, as expected, there are several shops in downtown Mount Airy offering Andy Griffith souvenirs.

downtown mount airy nc

22 Top Things to See and Do in Mount Airy

Mount Airy North Carolina is home to Andy Griffith and the Mayberry-themed dominates the list of things to do. For that reason, I’ve split the list into smaller groupings based on interests.

The groupings are Mayberry and Andy Griffith Related, History, Art, and Outdoor.

Activities for Mayberry Lovers

Most visitors to Mount Airy are there because of one man, Andy Griffith. They likely associate Mount Airy with a small town they grew up watching on TV, Mayberry.

1. Andy Griffith Museum

The Andy Griffith Museum is located next to the Andy Griffith Theater a mile from downtown Mount Airy.

Many of Andy’s possessions are on display including artifacts from his long TV career ranging from Sherrif Andy Taylor on the Andy Griffith Show to his days as Matlock. The museum houses the world’s largest collections of Andy Griffith memorabilia.

Admission is $8 for adults.

2. TV Land Andy and Opie Statue

You can visit the TV Land statue of Andy and Opie in front of the Andy Griffith Museum for free.

The bronze statue depicts Sheriff Andy Taylor and his son Opie walking to the fishing hole as they did in the show opening credits.

It was commissioned by TV Land in the early 2000s as part of a series of honoring TV greats from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

It was on my must-see list. The iconic statue didn’t disappoint.

We even listened to the theme song on our phone here. Isn’t technology great?

tvland andy and opie statue in mount airy nc

3. Andy Griffith boyhood home

Andy Griffith’s boyhood home is privately owned so tours are not available. However, it is a vacation rental available for nightly rental.

Most visitors take pictures from the sidewalk but die-hard fans can rent the house for their Mount Airy trip.

4. Floyd’s Barber Shop

If ever watched the Andy Griffith show, you remember Floyd the barber.

Floyd’s Barber Shop is a fully functional barbershop on modern-day Main Street Mount Airy. Tourists are also welcome for photos.

Visiting Floyd’s Barbershop on Main Street is a quick and fun thing to do in Mount Airy.

Floyd’s Barbershop is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

main street mount airy is full of mayberry attractions like floyds barbershop and snappy's lunch

5. Wally’s Service Center

Wally’s Service Center is located 0.3 miles from downtown Mount Airy. You’ll instantly recognize the gas station and garage made famous by Jim Nabors’s bumbling character, Gomer Pyle.

Today Wally’s Service Center offers t-shirts, jams, postcards and several local goods. I enjoyed a Cheerwine on their rocking chair front porch. I highly recommend sitting for a spell and watching the town activity if you have time.

enjoying a cheerwine at wally's service center in mount airy north carolina

If you’ve never heard of Cheerwine, that’s because it’s a NC thing. The cherry cola is delicious and reminds me of a cherry Coke.

Make sure to grab a picture of the restored squad cars from across the street and the multiple vintage tow trucks. Wally’s was definitely my favorite Mount Airy photo spot.

tow truck in front of wally's service center in mount airy nc

6. Mayberry Replica Jailhouse

Next door to Wally’s is a replica jailhouse including pale green walls and the big wooden sheriff’s desk. Seeing Otis, the town’s drunk, picture in one of the jail cells made me smile.

The Mayberry Replica Jailhouse is free to visit and visitors are encouraged to take pictures.

mayberry replica jailhouse

7. Emmit’s Fix-It Shop

Emmit’s Fix-It Shop is located in the same lot at Wallys and the Mayberry Replica Jailhouse. I only saw a pickup truck with the shop’s name on it but I couldn’t resist a photo.

Emmit Clark, played by actor Paul Hartman, was Mayberry’s handyman and he appeared in the pilot episode of the Andy Griffith Show.

In later years of the show, Emmit’s Fix-It Shop was located in Floyd’s Barber Shop following Floyd’s retirement. The shop served the same purpose as a town gathering spot.

8. Mayberry Squad Car Tour

One of the top things to do in Mount Airy is to tour the town from a vintage car painted like a Mayberry Squad Car. Look closely and you’ll notice the cars are all different models. But they are still cool looking.

Tours are $40 per person and the cars seat up to 4. During COVID, cars are limited to one family group so you will not share your tour guide.

Mayberry Squad Car Tours start and end at Wally’s Service Center.

mayberry squad car tours are a popular thing to do in mount airy

9. Mount Airy Visitor’s Center

If you have read our other destination articles like the Ultimate Guide to Yellowstone or Grand Staircase Escalante, you’ll know I think Visitor Centers are can’t miss destinations.

Visitor Centers are the best place to learn more about an area when first arriving. They are usually staffed by locals who can share their favorite restaurants or off-the-beaten-path sites.

The Mount Airy Visitor’s Center is no exception, they offer brochures and maps for the Surry County area’s top attractions. The Visitor Center is located on Main Street and it is open 7 days a week.

During our visit, the lady working offered to call and make a Mayberry Squad Car tour reservation for us.

10. Snappy’s Lunch

A no-frills diner located in downtown, Snappy’s is famous for its pork chop sandwich. It’s been in business since 1923. The sandwich was featured on the cover of Gourmet magazine.

Snappy’s pork chop specialty is as much North Carolina as one can fit on a single sandwich. The lightly sweetened batter of the fried pork chop is delicious alone but in NC we like to cover all things in chili and slaw. It might sound odd, but the tangy and crunch combo is addictive. If you get hooked and need a fix, you can find hamburgers and hot dogs with chili and slaw on the menu in most diners throughout the state.

Although it was never a filming location for the show, Andy Griffith recommended he and Barney have lunch at Snappy’s on one episode.

Hours are primarily breakfast and lunch but the diner is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Check out our upcoming What to Eat in Mount Airy post for more dining out and treat ideas.

Activities for History Lovers

Mayberry tourism drives a lot of visitation to Surry County. As such, the area has taken the opportunity to share more than just their Andy Griffith history with visitors.

11. Mount Airy Museum of Regional History

The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is located in a restored downtown mercantile. There are three stories of exhibits and they cover a variety of topics about the region.

Highlights are a 70-foot scale model railroad, old Model Ts and fire engines, the history of the nearby world’s largest open-face granite quarry, and several exhibits on life through history in the Yadkin Valley including Native and Victorian household items.

Admission is $6 plus tax to the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.

12. Siamese Twins – Chang and Eng Bunker

A random claim to fame for Mount Airy is their famous residents, Chang and Eng Bunker. The Bunker twins were the first known Siamese twins. In 1881, they were born in Siam (modern-day Thailand). At birth, they were joined at the chest by a small band of cartilage.

After years of worldwide promotional tours, the brothers used their earnings to settle in Mount Airy. They became successful farmers and businessmen. The brothers married sisters and had 22 children in total.

It sounds a bit like a reality TV show but the brothers shared their time between households, with 3 days shifts with each family. Chang and Eng lived to 62.

Exhibits about the Siamese twins are at both the Andy Griffith Museum and Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. Visitors can also go to the Bunker twins’ graves at the White Plains Baptist Church Cemetery in Mount Airy.

13. Gertrude Smith House

The Gertrude Smith House is a historic Victorian house in Mount Airy North Carolina. Gertrude’s family owned and operated the J.D. Smith General Store in town.

Built by her family in 1903, the home is on the National Register of Historic Places.

After studying art and design, Gertrude returned to Mount Airy and worked as an interior designer in addition to running the family business. She was an early preservationist. In her will, she created the Gilmer-Smith Foundation to operate her home as a “living history museum” reflecting life in the early 1900s.

Free tours of the home are available Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays from 11 am – 4 pm.

Activities for Art Lovers

Performing arts is a popular form of expression in the small town of Mount Airy. A live performance, music or theater, at one of the town’s venues is a great way to experience the local vibe.

The Surry Arts Council is very active and provides weekly opportunities for both visitors and residents. An arts council season pass is a good bargain if you enjoy live shows and plan to attend multiple events.

14. Historic Earle Theatre

The Historic Earle Theatre is located downtown. The photo-worthy old-time heritage music hall hosts weekly events.

It is home to the nation’s second-longest-running radio show, WPAQ Merry-Go-Round. Second, only to the Grand Ole Opry, Merry-Go-Round broadcasts local musicians weekly from the Historic Earle Theatre in downtown Mount Airy. Admission is $8 for the 2.5-hour show or free with Surry Arts Council season pass.

Check out the Surry Arts Council music page for details on upcoming events.

15. Blackmon Amphitheater

Blackmon Amphitheater is an open-air venue located near downtown across the street from the Andy Griffith Playhouse on Rockford Street. It is home to the Summer Art Series hosted by the Surry Arts Council.

The 2022 Summer Art Series show schedule is available here. Ticket prices vary per show with a maximum of $15. Annual passes are also available from the Surry Arts Council.

The Summer Art Series in Mount Airy consists of over 50 live musical performances including several during Mayberry Days. Visitors are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets to enjoy the show.

16. Andy Griffith Playhouse

The Andy Griffith Playhouse is connected to the Andy Griffith Museum. It is located about 0.5 miles from downtown. The TV Land Andy and Opie statue is located in front of the Andy Griffith Playhouse and Andy Griffith Museum.

The community theater is housed in a historic schoolhouse. Mount Airy’s first public school, Rockford School, was built in 1920. Andy Griffith attended elementary school at Rockford Street Elementary School and first performed on-stage at this school.

Upcoming shows, including ticket links, are listed on the Surry Arts Council Live Theatre page.

A “Hey from Mayberry” mural is also located at the Andy Griffith Playhouse. It is located near the parking lot and is free to visit.

Activities for Outdoor Lovers

Mount Airy is located in the beautiful North Carolina Mountains and a visit should definitely include some outdoor activities.

17. Walk Mount Airy’s Main Street

You absolutely cannot visit Mount Airy without walking down Main Street. It is only a few blocks and can be walked completely in less than half an hour.

Main Street is home to Floyd’s Barbershop, several sweets shops, souvenir merchants and antique stores, the Visitor’s Center, the Historic Earle Theatre and more.

If you want a little more walking, Wally’s Service Center is less than half a mile from downtown. The walk from downtown to Wally’s is through a gorgeous historic residential district.

If you are curious about the sweet shops, check out our upcoming What to Eat in Mount Airy post for more details.

mayberry country sign

18. Whittling Wall

The Whittling Wall is a sculpture located in downtown Mount Airy.

It is a brick wall with figures carved into the brick that commemorate eight famous individuals or groups to Surry County. The eight sculptures include:

  • The Whittler which represents the history of the wall
  • Tommy Jarrell, a legendary fiddle player
  • Fred Cockerham, a renowned banjo player;
  • Ralph Epperson, the founder of WPAQ Radio Station still broadcasting from the Historic Earle Theater
  • Donna Fargo, a famous country singer and songwriter
  • L.H. Jones, a history making African American public educator and advocate
  • Floyd E. “Flip” Rees, businessman who drove early efforts to revitalize downtown Mount Airy
  • The Mill Worker which represents the thousands of women and men who worked in local textile mills
whittle wall, a brick outdoor sculpture, in mount airy north carolina

19. North Carolina Granite Quarry

The largest open-face granite quarry is located less than two miles from downtown Mount Airy. I can’t resist the option to visit an odd roadside superlative like this. If you’re like me, take a few minutes to snap some photos and feel like a kid watching the big machines working in the quarry.

Visitors are welcome to visit the active granite quarry. There is even a designated observation area for visitors.

A history of the quarry is also on permanent exhibit at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.

open face granite quarry in mount airy north carolina

20. North Carolina State Parks

North Carolina State Parks are a great option to enjoy the great outdoors. Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock are both within 30 minutes from Mount Airy.

Only 15 minutes from town, Pilot Mountain State Park is an easy trip from town. Pilot Mountain rises 1,400 feet above the surrounding land and is visible for many miles. The park offers hiking trails and scenic overlooks for all fitness levels. Admission is free.

Check out upcoming hiking Pilot Mountain post for more details about the park.

Hanging Rock State Park is located 28 miles from town. The park offers climbing, mountain biking and hiking. Admission is free.

pilot mountain view from little pinnacles overlooks in north carolina

21. Drive the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of American’s Scenic By Ways and should not be missed on a Western North Carolina trip.

The continuous 469-mile route was started during the Great Depression by FDR and completed in 1987. It is a great way to see the beauty of the mountains at a leisurely pace. The Parkway speed limit is 45 mph and there are scenic overlooks every few miles.

Check out our upcoming Guide to Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina for more details.

driving the blue ridge parkway is a great thing do while visiting mount airy

22. Riverside Park & Granite City Greenway

Riverside Park in Mount Airy offers a break from tourist activities. Spend a relaxing day at the park enjoying trails, playgrounds, a skate park, river access and picnics areas.

The Granite City Greenway in Riverside Park when combined with Ararat River Greenway offers visitors over 7 miles of well-maintained biking and walking trails.

Is Mount Airy worth visiting?

Mount Airy is definitely worth visiting for Andy Griffth fans. If you don’t care about Andy Griffith, the small town will be a quick stop. Those who grew up loving the Andy Griffith Show will want a little more time to experience all the things to do in Mayberry.

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  1. under the list of things to do at top Floyd’s is FLOYD;S

    really a good article – makes me want to visit Mayberry